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Water Company Customers Fight Proposed Rate Hike

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RALEIGH — Most people who choose to live outside the city understand they must take higher water bills with their tax breaks. But the water and sewer bills from Heater Utilities could be going through the roof -- in some cases, 191 percent more than what homeowners pay now.

Some Heater Utilities customers appeared Monday night at a hearing held by the N.C. Utilities Commission. They gathered to oppose what would be the second rate hike by the company in two years.

Bill Grantmyre, president of Heater Utilities, says the rate hike the company seeks is fair, and is needed to upgrade the system.

The customers say it is not fair, and cited what their bills could rise to.

One man said Heater Utilities billed him $92.44 for water in June; under the new rates he calculated that bill would have been $335.86.

Another customer predicted that such water bills would drive people back into the cities to live, that "you can't afford to move to the country."

At Monday night's hearing, customers also voiced concerns about water quality, taste and levels of service from Heater Utilities. The company said it would look into those matters, but they are not backing down from their rate increase request.

The state utilities commission is charged with setting the rates.

Heater Utilities serves 19,000 customers in this area of the state, and 47,000 statewide.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Greg Clark, Photographer
Kay Miller, Web Editor

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